Monthly Archives: November 2007

Report from the Sweden.se Film Festival

So what did we learn by holding a film festival in Second Life? We got the answers to several questions we had. We even got the answer to a question we hadn’t asked ourselves.

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Here’s what we wanted to learn by holding a two-day festival of Swedish short films: Can you sustain a multi-day event in Second Life? (Will people show up to the second day?) Can you show a half-hour long film in Second Life? (Is the technology mature enough for half-hour films, and is Second Life conducive to this kind of sustained attention on the part of avatars?) Can you generate a meaningful debate on film in this context? And the question we hadn’t asked — What happens when a griefer shows up, intent on disrupting the events?

I’m glad to say that yes, multi-day events are sustainable. The festival was attended on both days, but there was an even bigger audience on the second day, likely due to word of mouth.

Technically, too, a half-hour film is sustainable. Everything held up, and we received no complaints about the quality of the video image. Subtitles were legible (though we wrote a memo to self that they could be a bit larger in the future).

As for film debate — here the audience proved a bit shy:-) But this may be because Second Life residents are not necessarily film buffs, and were instead just there for a good time watching an interesting movie. In any case, as the commentary in the screenshot below shows, members of he audience had no qualms in making their approval known, even if they didn’t have so many questions for the directors and producers.

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Click on image to enlarge

On the first day, just as the film got going, a griefer interrupted the proceedings by having his avatar wear a processor-sapping item of clothing and later by having photos flying around. This is the first time since the opening of Second House of Sweden that we’ve had to deal with a griefer, and it was a good reminder that we need to be vigilant. It took us a while to pin him down and ban him, in part because he managed crash our Second Life clients before we knew what was going on.

Before the next day’s events, it was time to beef up security measures — we simplified the banning process for the entire region, and also learned som tricks for quickly identifying a griefer and ejecting him before his antics become a nuisance. We had no further trouble, while the griefer did us a favour by reminding us to stay on our toes.

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The Sweden.se Short Film Festival in Second Life: Three films, two days, one virtual screen

On 22-23 November 2007, the Second House of Sweden is hosting a series of three critically acclaimed Swedish short films at its amphitheater in the virtual world of Second Life. The producers and directors of the films will be on hand to introduce their work; after each viewing, join them in a discussion of their films.

Anyone in the world with a broadband Internet connection can take part. Here’s the programme:

Thursday, 22 November, 7AM Second Life time (4PM Stockholm time, 11PM Shanghai time):

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Music for one apartment and six drummers (10 minutes — 2001)
Six drummers participate in a well-planned musical attack in the suburbs. As an elderly couple leaves their apartment the drummers take over. On everyday objects they give a concert in four movements: Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom and Living room.
Kostr film

Sweden/Sverige (8 minutes — 2000)
On the Swedish south coast a man is gazing out at sea. He pulls out a compass and finds north. He starts to run. Three days and three nights later he reaches his goal: Treriksröset. He has passed the state of Sweden.
Kostr film

The directors of these two films, Ola Simonsson och Johannes Stjärne Nilsson, will be present at the viewing to discuss the films.

Friday, 23 November, 7AM Second Life time (4PM Stockholm time, 11PM Shanghai time):

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Punkspark (29 minutes — 2007)
Three young punks (the Sex Pistols kind) occupy the garden of an Upper- class family to organize a punk rock music festival…
Audience award for best short story film at the Gothenburg Film Festival, Audience choice for best short film at the Jönköping Film Festival
Stavro Filmproduktion AB

Both the director, Johan Löfstedt, and the producer of Punkspark, Patrik Axén, will be present at the viewing to discuss the film.

How to visit the Second House of Sweden:
First-time users of Second Life: Get a free account at http://www.Sweden.se/secondlife. Download and install the viewer (Windows, Mac or Linux), log on and you will be instantly transported to the Swedish Institute’s island. There, a short orientation course teaches you the basics of navigating Second Life. After about 15 minutes of training, you’ll be ready to join the activities at the Second House of Sweden.

Seasoned users of Second Life: Using the map, search for “Swedish Institute” and teleport there. You can also use this SLurl.

Contact info:
International media:
Susanna Wallgren, susanna.wallgren@si.se, +46 8 453 79 65

Swedish media:
Jenny Hagblom, jenny.hagblom@si.se, +46 8 453 79 22

About the Swedish Institute:
The Swedish Institute (SI) is a public agency that promotes interest in Sweden abroad. SI seeks to establish cooperation and lasting relations with other countries through active communication and cultural, educational and scientific exchanges.

Download this press release as a PDF (3MB)

Swedish Lesson #4: Report

On Monday we had our final Swedish lesson in a series of four that we’ve held over the past six weeks. We already had some great feedback from the first three lessons, and had learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t, and how we can make it even better. I wasn’t sure if many people would show up for the final lesson; but in fact, we had more than any other previous lesson, and from an amazing range of countries: Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Japan and Scotland are some that I remember.

I’ll be writing up our findings properly in the coming weeks, but here is a quick preview of my thoughts: There is a lot of demand for Swedish lessons out there from people who don’t have easy access to such lessons; immersive distance learning works, but the learning curve can be steep; it’s important to have structured lessons; and finally, instead of just asking people to show up, a better model may be to have people apply, and then use Second Life as the immersive aural part of a course, complemented by worksheets and video that they can watch at their leisure. But we’ll see — it certainly is promising to be able to reach people who would otherwise never have any “face time” with a live Swedish teacher.

Finally, there was also a film crew from SVT, Swedish television, in the room when the lesson took place. Look out for a report by them next week!

Many thanks again to Lars Larsson (aka “Kvint Larsson”) for his pioneering role as virtual Swedish teacher-)

Linnaeus exhibition opening report

Wow.

It’s difficult to know beforehand what kind of turnout you will have for an event in Second Life. Because one sim/server can only really host a maximum of 60 simultaneous users, there is always the small risk that your event is way oversubscribed. But you also never know until the event starts whether anyone will show up. The hardest part to get right, I’ve found, is getting the word out about an event to the right people, so that you get the ideal group of 50-or-so enthusiastic collaborators.

And that is precisely what we got for the inauguration of the Linnaeus exhibition at the Second House of Sweden last Friday, November 2. I wrote “collaborators”, because a large number of visitors we’re fully dressed in 18th century period costumes, to take part in the costume competition. It was quite a sight to see the Linnaeus garden and room filled with such finery. The pictures do it more justice.

You can see my whole set on Flickr here. There are more shots taken by Linn here.

Another bit of technological finery was on display when we broadcast a 7 minute video interview with Anders Backlund, a lecturer on pharmacognosy at Uppsala University and a Linnaeus expert. Because Anders was on a plane at the time of the inauguration, I recorded a Skype video conversation with him earlier in the day — me in Cairo, he in Uppsala, then shown to everyone in Second Life. It’s a mash-up of existing technologies (I used Ecamm’s Call Recorder) but the overall effect worked really well. All this was broadcast “live” using Wirecast to a Quicktime Streaming Server run by Qbrick.

When the film was over, it was time for the judging of the costumes. Swedish SL builder Kaja Lurra and my SI collaborator Nex Canning and I were the judges, and after a lot of agonizing, we came up with three winners. Congratulations to the first prize winner, Kissowa Kamachi (who got L$20,000) second prize winner Freyja Nemeth (L$15,000) and third prize winner Ran Garrigus (L$10,000)!

Don’t forget, there is a plant-building competition running this whole week, with more prizes.